Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World
Machu Picchu, along with a few other anomalies around the world, is something that has been on my bucket list for some time. The Inca Trail, a four day hike to Machu Picchu, was an experience that very few people have the pleasure of doing. Hiking for four days and camping for 3 nights might not seem like much, but when you're reaching elevations of 13,828 ft (4,215m) you can start to feel the toll it takes on your body. This is especially coming from an individual that just had a wake up call and might need to start going back to the gym after this adventure.
On the first day, we got a real taste of what the next few days were going to be like. Our guide, Simon, called it a “training day” where we get acclimated to the altitude and hike for about 6 miles. At the end of the day, my dad, Otto and I thought that this hike was going to be a piece of cake and were ready to get going on the second day.
When the night came around, we didn't know what to do with ourselves. It was only 7pm and we had so much energy because of the amazing first day we had. Turns out that going to bed at 8pm makes the next day a lot easier (probably something I should already know). At night, we get the real camping experience by putting 3 of us in one tent. Even though it might have been a little bit too crammed for my liking, it was still a once in a life experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
On the second day, we were all excited to get going. But this was the day where we hiked 5,000 ft in elevation. The steep steps with the rain really put things into perspective - this was not going to be easy. When we got to the top, we finally had some sunshine and was able to look out on the Andes Mountain Range and really appreciate what we were doing. You can’t help but get a rush of serotonin from the vast, green mountains that were in front of us. Everything that came before that point completely cleared your mind, because you got to sit there and appreciate what you were looking at. That moment will be imprinted into my memory for the rest of my life.
When we started to make our way down, I could start to feel my breath coming back. After making it to the top, we had the energy to keep going because we could feel we were getting close. While we were hiking, we knew that we wanted to make it to the end as quickly as possible. But something that I realized was that it’s not about how quickly we could get to the end, but rather the journey along the way. That is were your true memories are made.
Top of Dead Woman’s Pass
Our third day was our longest, but one of the most beautiful. This is when we got to encounter the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, and fully got to experience why they call it a rainforest. Throughout the day, there was probably a 10 minute time frame where it wasn’t raining. But when you are in the moment, you don’t seem to mind. You are motivated to make it to the next campsite, making you one step closer to seeing Machu Picchu.
Our last day was by far the craziest. We had to get up at 3am to start hiking to the checkpoint, while it was still raining. When you are standing there in the dark, cold, wilderness, all you want is to get to your destination. I would consider myself a patient man, but at the moment I was getting very, very antsy. When the time came and we made it over the Sun-gate, you got a picture-perfect view of the Andes. I hurried down to the bottom and got the most beautiful view of Machu Picchu, I couldn't stop smiling. Just all of us looking down at something that people have been dreaming and wondering about for decades. It was a spiritual moment for all of us, and made the 27 mile trek well worth it.